Knitting Factory Records is very excited to announce that the first set of Fela reissues will be released on February 16, 2010. Since the reissues are being made available in chronological order, these six CDs, that contain nine albums total, represent the earliest period of the Nigerian legend’s oeuvre. The timespan of the releases is 1969 – 1974, the era during which Fela first created the sound he was to call Afrobeat, a music he always contended was a modern form of danceable, African classical music that was created out of a cross-breeding of funk, jazz, salsa, calypso, with juju, highlife and African percussive patterns.
The titles that are being released are:
The ’69 L.A. Sessions
Live With Ginger Baker
Roforofo Fight/+2 Singles
Open & Close/Afrodisiac
These records give the listener a fascinating glimpse into Fela’s earliest recordings with his first band, the Highlife group he formed in London called Koola Lobitos, and illustrate the evolution of his Afrobeat sound, his experiments with lengthy improvisation as well as his emerging political voice, which was to become more scathing and direct as he got older. All of the titles are remastered and re-released in unique digi-packs with the original artwork.
"We are elated to finally ensure that Fela’s entire catalogue is readily available to the general public, and in apropos packaging," says Knitting Factory Records’ Ian Wheeler. "I’m also excited as a fan because it’s great to offer a new generation the opportunity to discover Fela’s sonic and lyrical progression from its earliest days."
The reissue series is well timed as it coincides with the critically acclaimed FELA!, the hit Broadway musical that celebrates Fela’s life and music. The play, which is leaving sold-out audiences astonished and breathless at the end of every performance, is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones and produced by Shawn ‘Jay-Z" Carter and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith. The Eugene O’Neill Theatre has been dressed to look like the Shrine in Nigeria in which Fela performed for many years to his loyal local following and the world-renowned Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of Aaron Johnson, perform Fela’s music live onstage.
The next group of reissues will be released in the spring.